Aims: To study the associations between occupational exposures and the risk of lung cancer in New Caledonia.
Methods: All cases diagnosed between January 1993 and December 1995 (228 lung cancers) and 305 population controls were included. Detailed information on lifetime job history, smoking, and other potential risk factors was collected by interview. Occupational exposures were assessed from the questionnaires by an industrial hygienist, without knowledge of case-control status.
Results: No significant association was found with exposures related to nickel mining and refining, the main industrial activity in the territory. Among men, an excess risk of lung cancer was found for bus and truck drivers. Increased risks were also observed in men with the highest level of cumulative exposure to cleaning products and inorganic fertilisers. Exposure to field dust was associated with lung cancer risk in both sexes, and risk increased with cumulative exposure level. In some areas tremolite asbestos derived from local outcroppings was used as a whitewash. The association between exposure to field dust and lung cancer was limited to men and women exposed to this whitewash—that is, living in areas where the soil may contain tremolite.
Conclusion: This study shows several associations between occupational exposures and lung cancer. The findings suggest that exposure to tremolite fibres from cultivated fields may increase the risk of lung cancer in New Caledonia.
- environmental exposure
- lung cancer
- occupational exposure
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